While blizzard-like conditions followed by sub-zero temperatures followed by mild amounts of snow have wrecked havoc on the high school sports schedules in the greater St. Louis area and beyond this week, right before the New Year rang in, two perennial Class 3 state contenders from Midtown St. Louis, Cardinal Ritter and Metro had very different results in holiday basketball tourneys.
The Lady Lions of Cardinal Ritter, who made two straight Missouri Class 3 state championship final appearances in 2006 and 2007 after escaping close district title wins over arch- rival Metro along the way. captured its own holiday title in convincing fashion by routing the Lady Eagles of Brentwood 59-31 in the championship. Ritter had completely throttled Madison Prep 77-10 and O'Fallon Christian 64-25 in the first and second-rounds.
Meanwhile out in West St. Louis County, the Lady Panthers of Metro weren't so good, or lucky, as they finished in sixth place in the Visitation Tournament, after upsetting a highly-regarded Fort Zumwalt West 56-46 in the opening round. But they eventually were eliminated by St. Josph's 50-38 when they managed to connect with just 14-of 41 shots from regular range and 2-of-14 from the three-point arc.
"After that first game, we couldn't make a shot the next game," said Metro assistant coach Terence Miller. "None of our shooters could shoot well in that game."
Actually there was one player from Metro who held her own in that St. Joseph's loss and it was Miller's daughter, Tayler Miller who had a game-high 22 points, while stroking 9-of 13 shots from the floor. She led a balanced attack in that Fort Zumwalt West victory with 16 points while teammates Dymond Randle (15) and Jordan Norde (11) also reached double figures.
"A lot of positive things took place in the tournament," said Miller. "We've got three freshmen in the mix and it gives them a chance to grow."
Metro's trio of freshmen are 5-10 Tiana Jackson, 5-9 Dasia Batteast and 5-5 Amanda Watts, but Miller and Randle have been the club's focal points. Miller is averaging 15.6 points and 9.3 rebounds , while Randle is averaging 11.1 points and 7.9 rebounds for the 6-3 Lady Panthers. The 8-0 Lady Lions of Cardinal Ritter, on the other hand, have been doing it with balance, as the entire lineup averages about eight points or more: Cayla Yates (11.9 ), Chasity Franklin (11.1), Jayla Davis (9.3), Romeika Wallace (8.5) and Andrane Walsh (7.9), while Wallace is a mega-force as a rebounder (14.2 per game).
Ritter's girls captured the Class 3 state title in 2009 and finished runner-up in 2010 to Mt. Vernon, while Metro's girls won the Class 2 state title in 2006 and moved up in classification because of an enrollment increase and took the Class 3 crown in 2007. But since 2007 Ritter and Metro have had to clash in the district championships where a few games were decided by a single point or basket.
While Ritter competes in the small-school division of the Archdiocese Athletic Association, Metro competes in the Public High League, where it has to get past perennial Class 4 contender, Miller Career Academy, where the Lady Phoenix are sporting an 8-1 overall mark after winning the Pink and White Lady Classic in Springfield, Mo. recently. Behind 20 points apiece from Zhanesa Dickerson and Braennan Farrar, Career Academy beat Nixa 56-40 in the title game.
Career Academy will play host Metro on Friday Jan.24 in a 6:15 tipoff in an annual contest which usually decides the eventual PHL champion.